Traverse City Record-Eagle


1 berry, 2 berries, pick me a blueberry…

Rebecca Lindamood…Hatberry shoeberry in my canoeberry!

Bruce Degen’s Jamberry book becomes the most read aloud book in our house this time of year. We put up about 25 lbs of strawberries two weeks ago (two batches of jam, some strawberry shortcake, and the remainder in our mouths and the freezer) and between the Wednesday-just-passed and today we’ve managed to pick 45 lbs of blueberries.

We’ll be picking again this week, so the grand total will have to wait, but we’ve already done five packed freezer gallon bags of blueberries in the chill chest and there is much more destined to join it. I’m hoping to get two batches of jam done today and at least one more next week. I really want to get out at least one more time to pick. I’m thinking 10 lbs or so will do us. After that, and the pounds we’re eating fresh, I hope to get a double batch of blueberry basil vinegar and a double batch of blueberry wine done.

Yesterday the boys and I made 24 quarts of garlic dill pickles (that was two pecks of baby pickling cukes to begin with.) Ty, the five-year-old, peeled garlic. Aidan, the seven-year-old, scrubbed cucumbers. Liam, the nine-year-old, kept Rowan, the one-year-old occupied. Leif, the three-year-old, alternately broke up some bay leaves for me (genius busy work… it kept him contributing!) and stuffed his hands into the bottom of the cucumber and water filled sink. I’m hoping to get another peck or two pickled next week (in between packing boxes, going to doctor’s appointments and messy parties and scraping kids off my shins).

I remember sitting around my Grandma’s table or on her back deck breaking green beans into pieces or watching her and my Mom and aunts peel peaches (much too delicate work for hands that were clumsy at that point!).

Is anyone else in full canning/freezing mode yet? What do you put up? If you don’t can or put up food, do you have any particular memories of doing projects like that with your family?

  • Jeanne Hubbard

    My Dad grew an immense garden, far too much food to feed even our little neighborhood of 4 houses. Mom used to joke about being held slave to the garden, as she was in our basement kitchen most days during the summer months. I helped her put up everything — beets, beans, corn, pickles, tomatoes, peaches, plumbs, pears, applesauce. We made jam from raspberries, strawberries, grapes and gooseberries. My Dad grew it all and made wine from everything (even the tomatoes).

    Beans are my favorite canned vegetable to eat, but my least favorite to can. Too much cutting work. Beets smell funny and are really messy, but fun. At least the peeling part goes easy, once you pressure cook them for a bit. We tried sauerkraut one year, but it didn’t work well. My mom, always looking for a shortcut, decided to ferment the shredded cabbage directly in the jars, bypassing the crock. Didn’t end up tasting too good.

    This year was our first without Dad and we planted a much smaller garden as a memorial. But even with the size cut in half, it is too much for Mom and my brother, who lives close by, to handle. We are left to wonder how Dad managed to keep the lawn mowed, the weeds pulled, and the vegetables picked! Next year Mom plans to do a little container gardening, but that’s about it. I will be sure to enjoy the fruits of Dad’s garden this year knowing that once the stores of canned food are gone in the pantry downstairs, that’s the last of Dad’s outstanding vegetables.

  • Rebecca Lindamood

    There is nothing like eating food in December or January that you put up in June/July/August/September. Even if you only do a quart or two of something and a pint or two of another thing its so worth the effort. Not to sound hokey or anything, but its almost like you can taste the love that went into it. My sister and I exchange pickles every year. She and I swap at least a couple jars each of our personal stores of garlic dills, we swap my bread and butter pickle relish for her bread and butter pickles, she gets my blueberry jam- I get her strawberry jam. I swap my pickled onion rings for her dilly green beans. Its win/win! By me canning certain things and her canning other things we double our return.

    My husband has a foul sauerkraut story somewhere in his lost youth. I’ll see if he can share it with me again so that I can remember it long enough to share it with you. It involved his Dad, a garbage can, the garage and some really nasty smells.

    Jeanne- I’ll bet the food your Dad put by for you all will taste even better this year than ever before. What a wonderful legacy for him to leave you.

    By the bye, if you have been treated by neighbors on National Sneak a Zucchini on Your Neighbor’s Porch night (not a joke-August 8th- Google it. I don’t lie!) to a gigantic mutant thick skinned zucchini or four and want something to do with it, ask me! I make a zucchini dill pickle relish that’s ta die for on hot dogs/grilled sausages/hamburgs, etc… Its super simple!

  • Trudi

    Wow! I can’t believe that you do all that with five little ones. I am very impressed!

    I have great memories of making jam and canning with my mother. My grandfather planted a berry patch at each of his daughter’s homes plus he had his own. We had so many even after sharing & canning, that we’d sell them to the local grocery. I got paid a quarter a quart to pick them. Every time I eat a raspberry I think of my grandfather. I also helped my mother can other fruits (peaches, pears, applesauce), tomatoes, beets, pickles and beans. I don’t remember caring much for the beans.

    Living in Colorado, we participate in a CSA and have only a small patch garden ourselves due to the extreme heat and dry climate.

    Does anyone have any good ‘beginner’ recipes for jam? Or if there is a good website you’ve found with canning recipes, please post. Also, please do post Zucchini recipes. I’ve done grilled, stuffed, bread, in eggs but always looking for another tasty recipe. (Even better if it doesn’t require use of the oven and minimal use of the stove.)
    Thanks in advance and greetings from Colorado.

  • Jeanne Hubbard

    Trudi, I just made some delicious zucchini a couple nights ago with a recipe I created last summer to deal with our overabundance of squash. It’s easy and tasty, and you can use it for yellow squash as well, or a mixture of both:

    1) Slice zucchini in half lengthwise, then into 1/2-inch slices.

    2) In frying pan, before heating, toss zucchini with olive oil to coat. Salt and pepper to taste, then sprinkle with paprika and garlic powder. Toss again to evenly distribute spices.

    3) Over med-high heat, stir-fry zucchini until tender. Serve immediately.

    I also have a recipe for zucchini patties that my mother made, but I’d have to dig that out to do it justice. It’s made with shredded zucchini, parmesean cheese and jiffy mix. The other way my mom made zucchini was to deep-fry it with Drake’s batter… not healthy but very yummy.

  • Rebecca Lindamood

    My Dad made some really good zucchini burgers when I was going through a vegetarian phase. I’ll see if I can get him to pop in here and share it.

    I also have a really good and pretty simple zucchini dill pickle relish. I tinker with the proportion of zucchini to cukes depending on what’s available for free or cheap from friends and roadside stands!

    8 pounds pickling cucumbers and zucchini (2/3 cukes, 1/3 zucchini)
    1/2 cup Canning and Pickling Salt
    2 teaspoons turmeric
    1 quart water
    1 pound yellow onions
    4 cloves garlic, minced
    1/3 cup sugar
    2 tablespoons dill seed
    1 TB mustard seed
    1 1/2 tsp celery seed
    1 quart cider vinegar

    Prepare jars and closures.

    Wash cucumbers and zucchini; drain. Remove 1/16-inch from blossom and stem ends of cucumbers and zucchini. Finely chop cucumbers and zucchini in a food processor or food grinder. Place chopped veggies in a bowl and sprinkle with salt and turmeric. Pour water over; let stand 2 hours.

    Peel and finely chop onions.

    Drain cucumbers and zucchini. Rinse under cold water; drain. Combine with rest of the ingredients in a large saucepot; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.

    Carefully ladle hot relish into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles with a nonmetallic spatula. Wipe rim and threads of jar with a clean damp cloth. Place lid on jar with sealing compound next to glass. Screw band down evenly and firmly just until a point of resistance is met – fingertip tight.

    Process quarts 15 minutes or pints 10 minutes in a boiling-water canner. Cool to room temp on a soft towel.

    Jeanne- That zucchini recipe sounds delicious!

    My favorite all time zucchini recipe is the easiest thing. You just remove the stem end and slice it lengthwise into 1/2″ thick slices. Brush with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with Montreal Steak Seasoning or kosher salt and cracked black pepper. Grill over high heat until you have grill marks on either side. That’s it. But believe me, it tastes amazing!

  • Food Editor Kathy Gibbons

    People have often told me that freezer jam is easy for those with little or no experience in canning, of which I would count. Here’s a recipe I found on the Internet that I thought I might try.
    4 c. ripe strawberries
    4 c. granulated sugar
    1 box Sure-Jell powdered pectin
    3/4 c. water
    Wash and hull the berries; crush them completely, a few at a time. (Should end up with 2 cups.) In large bowl, mix together the berries and sugar. Let stand 10 minutes. Combine pectin and water in saucepan. Bring to boil; boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir hot pectin into the fruit bowl; continue stirring. Don’t worry if sugar is not completely dissolved. Ladle jam into freezer containers. Put lids on immediately. Let stand at room temperature 24 hours or until set. Refrigerate for a few weeks or freeze for up to a year.

  • Rebecca Lindamood

    Strawberry freezer jam. Yum! It is my favorite strawberry jam because I think it taste more like ripe strawberries than cooked jam does. Its also such a lovely vibrant red. I have a friend who faces a mutiny if she puts up too little to get her family through ’til next strawberry season!

  • Food Editor Kathy Gibbons

    Rebecca, does that recipe sound right? Or do you have a better one for freezer jam?

  • Rebecca Lindamood

    Kathy, I use whatever recipe is in the Sure-Jell box. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on which end of this you’re looking at…) I used up my last box of Sure-Jell last week making blueberry jam so I can’t check the insert., but that sounds about right.

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